As a board member of a homeowners’ association (HOA), you know that rules must be in place to create a cohesive and functional community. However, it can be time-consuming to constantly monitor and enforce the rules when there’s so much more on your plate. That’s why it is essential to have a plan that fosters an environment where rule compliance is voluntary. When you have a set of rules that offer guidance to the entire community, everyone benefits, and the aesthetics and value of a community are protected.
Before setting expectations, you must ensure that rules are necessary, clear, effective, reasonable, and above all else, legal. Community members are more likely to follow rules they can easily understand. Abiding by these guidelines on their own allows board members to focus on more critical issues and cultivate a happier, stress-free atmosphere for all. Read on for smart strategies to encourage voluntary compliance among residents.
1. Address Infractions Directly Before Acting
If possible, address an infraction directly before imposing consequences. While you have a responsibility to enforce the rules, it’s better to take a moment to explain what went wrong and why the regulation must be followed. Residents appreciate and feel more valued with an authentic approach. If the homeowner is still resistant, you can offer more information about the ramifications if the violation continues.
2. Provide Information About Where to Find the Rules
Often, residents will inadvertently violate the rules, not realizing what they’ve done or knowing the rule exists in the first place. When you approach a resident about an issue or remind the community about an existing rule, it helps to establish and emphasize the importance. Direct residents to the community’s governing documents and provide information on where to find these documents and the rules and regulations within them. The constitution of the community, these files detail everything homeowners—and board members—can and cannot do. Stress the legal nature of the governing documents in a matter-of-fact tone, delivering a necessary message that’s more likely to stick.
3. Create a Compliance Committee
To promote transparency, consider forming a compliance committee. This committee works in cooperation with the HOA board to assist with enforcement and foster a more welcoming neighborhood. Overall, a compliance committee should:
- Assist with creating new rules and amending old rules
- Work with the board to enforce regulations
- Implement ways for community members to easily access and understand rules
- Deliver policy-related communications
Assigning a committee for the job helps board members fulfill their responsibilities more effectively while giving community members a first-hand experience with association rules.
4. Involve Residents in the Rule-Making Process
It’s crucial to keep a finger on the pulse of the ever-changing needs of your community. And in doing so, you must ensure the rules and restrictions in your governing documents are also keeping up with the times. Work with residents to review existing rules, identify areas that may need adjustment, and examine processes to amend the regulations that don’t hold value for your association. Invite homeowners to become a part of the compliance committee, schedule a public hearing where homeowners can voice their opinions, send a poll on a proposed measure, or hold an information session on current rules in question. Getting input from homeowners promotes harmony within the association and creates efficiency for your board.
5. Give Notice Before Voting on a New Rule
By giving your residents notice that a vote is about to take place on a new rule, you’re showing that you respect them and value their insight. While voting requirements vary by association, it’s customary to provide at least 15 to 30 days’ notice of an impending vote. Outlined in your governing documents, voting notices, voting restrictions, and quorum instructions should always be followed. Still, by making the voting process as clear and straightforward as possible, homeowners will feel more involved in the direction of the community.
6. Improve Communication Efforts Within Your Community
Effective communication is critical to your success as an HOA. Using various mediums to share information about established rules and regulations, including the HOA newsletter, community website, social media channels, and your annual notices, can help nurture a better, more agreeable relationship between board members and homeowners.
Establish Fair Rule Creation and Enforcement
When you establish fair rules for your neighborhood that are understandable and necessary, you will see an increase in voluntary compliance among your residents. Watch our webinar, “HOA Rule Creation & Enforcement,” to learn more about the best ways to create good rules for your HOA.